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Apr 11, 2012 03:09 PM

Dehydrator projects: milk, cream, astronaut ice cream?

We're working on a story at CHOW about different ways to make astronaut ice cream, including easy versions to make at home. Today we had our first experiment, and it was somewhat successful - basically, we made some dehydrated milk foam.

We basically followed the dehydrated milk foam recipe found here:

It consists of heating up milk and glucose (we also added a bit of vanilla), then foaming it with a hand-blender. We took the foam and put it in the dehydrator at 160 degrees for about 4 hours, and then took it out. It came out pretty well, but the foam wasn't very puffy, so it came out more like chips than solid bites. It did melt on the mouth like astronaut ice cream though.

Now we're thinking of some other experiments, and I'm wondering if anyone has any tips. Has anyone ever tried:

1) Dehydrating whipped cream? What does that end up like?
2) Using a different method for the milk to get better foam? We're thinking we might use a whipped cream canister for this.
3) Making dehydrated chocolate mousse, like the recipe in the link. It sounds interesting, but not sure if the texture would be like astronaut ice cream

Any tips would be great! Also, if you have a dehydrator and you like experiments, our first recipe wasn't bad at all. Kind of a fun activity!

Dave MP

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  1. Wonder what would happen if you used soy lecithin when foaming... it's not super stable, but it'd be an interesting experiment.

    you might try adding a pinch of cream of tartar for increased stability or a bit of softened gelatin or agar agar.

    as of late, i've been doing a lot of "powderizing," using tapioca maltodextrin to absorb liquid fat. i also bought a malt powder yesterday that is supposed to have a similar use.

      1. Lol. Keep getting your molecular dehydrator freak on. Will be an interesting article! I l love my box but I'm pretty back-to-basics. More interested in raw or cooked dehydrated cracker recipes myself, ones that don't taste like cardboard or crap. :)

        Please do try homemade raisins if you haven't, they are sooooo exquisite. Halved, cut side up, ~8 hrs. Best hot from the dehydrator.

        1. Have you considered starting with a yogurt based foam? One upside is that you won't have to search out any of the more obscure stabilizers and thickeners sometimes used in foams. Here would be a basic recipe (taken from MC):

          350 g Full fat Greek yogurt
          150 g heavy cream
          4 g 160 bloom gelatin

          Bloom the gelatin and then dissolve in heated cream. Combine with yogurt. Pour in siphon, charge siphon, and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Should yield a fairly dense kind of foam.

          I believe you can add sugar or concentrated flavorings to this kind of mixture without effecting the foam's stability. What happens when you dehydrate it? I couldn't tell ya. I would think a more stabilized foam should get better results than a less stabilized one though.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cowboyardee

            Thanks for this tip. Sounds interesting! Based on today's experiments, it seems that stabilizers are pretty crucial.

            1. re: Dave MP

              Cream foams (whipped cream) on their own tend not to hold their structure with moderate heat like you would get in a dehydrator.

              Truth is I'm not convinced that a foam using gelatin will hold its structure either, since gelatin melts somewhere around body temperature. Might give you a head start. The yogurt itself should probably help a bit with stability. Adding something like 1-2% xanthan gum should give you a little extra viscosity even if your foam doesn't stay set. Agar agar might be a more heat-stable gelling agent for a foam than gelatin, but as I don't have any experience in making foams using agar (much less dehydrating them), I can't give you much advice.

              Incidentally, I also know that you can create thin, crispy chips by making a foam using methylcellulose and then dehydrating that. Sounds not too unlike what you've already managed though.

          2. This video from MAKE: should give you some great insights. I first watched it a while ago and found it fascinating:

            4 Replies
            1. re: travelerjjm

              He certainly has the right idea with the makeshift freeze dryer, standard dehydrating is the wrong tool for the job.

              1. re: travelerjjm

                Wow. I had no idea you could build a device for freeze drying that cost less than several thousand dollars. It's quite an elaborate method, but still impressive. Thanks for posting it.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  I am hoping it will inspire less-expensive solutions. Look what happened when similar sites posted home-built sous vide setups.

                2. re: travelerjjm

                  Thanks for the video link. Cool technique. We're going to be experimenting with both freeze-drying and dehydrating, but I'd love to find the best way to make astronaut ice cream in a dehydrator (even if it's never as good as freeze drying).